UNESCO's Work on Endangered Languages _ what

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UNESCO's Work on Endangered Languages _ what Powered By Docstoc

 Presentation by Anahit Minasyan
 Section for the Diversity of Cultural
 Expressions, UNESCO
Year    Dedicated initiative       Related initiative
1992    Launch of UNESCO’s ELP     CIPL congress & call
1994    Red book of endangered
1996    1st edition of the Atlas
2001    2nd edition of the Atlas   Univeral declaration on cultural
2002-   UNESCO Ad Hoc Group on
2003    endangered languages
2003    Language Vitality and      Convention on intangible heritage
        Endangerment paper
2007                               Declaration on the rights of
                                   indigenous peoples
2008                               UN Resolution on Multilingualism
2009    3rd edition of the Atlas   World Culture Report
        GC debate on possible
Main actors and stakeholders

a) Member States (governments)
b) Epistemic community(linguists,
c) Speakers (grassroots NGOs, activists,
  indigenous groups)

  d) UNESCO Secretariat (international civil
    servants and national project officers)
Epistemic community
Rationale: high esteem of scientific authority,
legitimizing public action of governments and

Modalities within UNESCO
•soliciting contributions to documents (reports, policy
guidelines, position papers, etc.)
•soliciting participation in ‘expert meetings’ aiming to
shed light on specific questions
•involving in Committees, Evaluation Panels or as
consultants to tackle a particular research task or
manage a project
Selected expert meetings organized by UNESCO’s
Culture Sector

Year    Meeting
1997    International expert meeting on language policies in Africa
2003    International expert meeting on endangered languages (Paris)

2005-   Reigional expert meetings in Bamako and Addid Ababa
2007    Expert meeting on language mapping (Paris)

2011    Expert meeting to review LVE (Paris)
A typical discourse
production-diffusion-interpretation cycle

Actor                 Action

Epistemic community   produces and popularizes a particular idea or
                      an argument

Governments           interpret/develop it into programmatic or
                      normative texts, policies and measures
                      (national level); resolutions and norms
                      (international level)
UNESCO / UN staff     interpret/develop it into advocacy texts,
                      reports, guidelines; support implementation of
Speaker communities   appropriate and use to substantiate their
                      claims for language rights and status, and/or
                      to secure funding for their safeguarding
                      efforts, provide feedback
Language Vitality and Endangerment paper
UNESCO Atlas of Languages in
Danger: Three Print Editions (1996,
2001, 2010)
ü First edition – 1996 - in English, French and
Spanish. 600 languages on 53 pages, 12 maps.

ü Second updated edition – 2001- in English only.
800 languages on 90 pages, 14 maps.

ü Third edition - 2010 – in English, French and
Spanish. 2500 languages on 154 pages, 62 maps.

                                                      For each language, the
                                                      print Atlas provides:

                                                  -   name
                                                  -   degree of endangerment 
                                                  -   country or countries where
                                                      it is spoken.
Online Atlas Phase 1 (2008): intensive data
collection and collation by an expert group
- researching and consolidating data
- inputting data in the online tool
- locating languages on the map
- discussing over email: regional editors concerned + editor-in-chief +
Phase 2 (2009-20012) - ‘crowd-reviewing’: feedback
and content production by public, mediated by

                                      üover 1000 user
                                      comments and
                                      submitted through
                                      various channels
                                      in 2009 – 2012
                                      ümajority from
                                      speakers of listed
Overview               of comments
Comment       %            Treatment stage
Under         37%          UNESCO: accept / reject (offensive, nonsensical,
treatment                  duplicates)
                           Editor-in-Chief : accept & forward to regional editor /
                           Regional editor(s) in consultation with Editor-in-Chief :
                           verify & suggest update / verify and close; reply to
                           UNESCO: validate, update online Atlas

Treated       63%          Rejected by UNESCO : 7 %
                           Closed by Editorial Board : 51 %
                           Validated by Board & reflected in online Atlas : 42 %

      Total         100%                                                        100%
375 updates, by type
Closed’ comments (no modification)

Comment 699 about Soyot language (Russian
Federation) marked as extinct in the Atlas. The user
suggested that during a research project, he saw
Soyot was taught at school and that school teachers
could speak the language.

•The regional editor confirmed these efforts to
revitalize the language since the 1970’s but also
observed that these attempts are yet to produce
measurable impact.
•After deliberation between the Regional Editor and
the Editor–in-chief , it was decided not to amend the
‘Validated’ comments - Bashkarik
 Degree of endangerment   Severely endangered                Definitely endangered

 Number of speakers       Approximately1500                  Estimated 40 000 speakers

 Alternate name(s)        Gawri; Kalami; Kalkoti (dialect)   Gawri; Kalami

 Iso-code(s)              gwc, xka                           gwc
 Bibliography                                                Joan L.G. Baart and Muhammad
                                                             Zaman Sagar (2004): Kalam Kohistani
                                                             Texts. Islamabad: National Institute of
                                                             Pakistan Studies and Summer
                                                             Institute of Linguistics.

 Coordinates              lat : 35.2893; long : 72.6168      lat : 35.5222 ; long : 72.5817

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